In the first episode of Loki, the newest Marvel Studios series on Disney+, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Time Variance Authority Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) are reviewing the god of mischief’s exploits when we get a flashback to a scene that had never featured before in any of the villain’s Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances. We see Loki with unusually slicked-back, short-cropped hair, dressed in a sleek suit and a snazzy pair of shades while seated aboard a 1960s-style airplane.
At first blush, this seems like just an excuse to put Hiddleston in a well-tailored suit (and who would blame them?), but it’s clear this sequence is an allusion to the mysterious case of D.B. Cooper, an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in 1971 and who remains at the center of the greatest unsolved case in FBI history.
Spoilers for the first episode of Loki continue below.
Who is D.B. Cooper?
On November 24, 1971, a man going by the name of Dan Cooper bought a one-way ticket on Northwest Orient Airlines for Flight 305, from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Described as being in his mid-40s and wearing a black business suit and tie and a black overcoat, Cooper only carried a dark briefcase and a paper bag. Before the plane took off, Cooper, seated in Seat 18C, ordered a bourbon and soda. Shortly after take-off at around 2:50 P.M. PT, he handed a flight attendant a note, which she — assuming it was his phone number — put in her purse. But Cooper leaned toward her and whispered, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.”
Cooper told her the bomb was in his briefcase, opening it to show red-colored sticks and an array of wires. Cooper then told the flight attendant to write his demands to the captain: $200,000 in “negotiable American currency,” four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival. One peculiar detail was that Cooper demanded the $200,000 ransom be delivered exclusively in $20 bills.
The flight landed in Seattle, and Cooper exchanged the 36 passengers on the plane for the money and parachutes. Cooper kept some crew members on the plane, which he then ordered to take off for Mexico City, though he would not make it to that destination. Sometime during the flight, when the plane was between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Cooper put on a pair of dark wrap-around sunglasses and jumped out of the rear of the Boeing 727, never to be seen again.
To this day, the identity of D.B. Cooper remains the longest unsolved case in FBI history. The FBI released the serial numbers of the bills stolen by Cooper, but it turned up nothing except for, ironically, a rotted package filled with $5,800 worth of $20 bills matching the numbers. This was in 1980, nine years after Cooper’s disappearance.
Which then leads us to Loki.
How Does D.B. Cooper Play Into Loki?
In the first episode of Loki, it’s revealed the god of mischief himself had posed as D.B. Cooper, staging the hostage situation, the ransom, and the mysterious disappearance out the back of the plane, all for…a prank?
“I lost a bet,” Loki groans in response to Agent Mobius gleefully stating, “I can’t believe you were D.B. Cooper!”
What the bet was, or who it was with, we’ll never know (let’s face it, it was probably Thor). But the sequence in Loki plays out much like how the real-life hijacking was reported to unfold, down to the sleek suit and glasses (though not wrap-around like the real D.B. Cooper’s was, because that would look extra dorky, even for Hiddleston), and the note to the flight attendant that was almost ignored. Of course, Loki breezes through the rest of the events pretty quickly, with the money handover and the plane jump happening in quick succession of each other, but you can’t keep a god of Asgard waiting. Because as soon as he jumps out the back of the plane, he is immediately picked up by Heimdall’s Bifrost, leaving the money (and presumably, the pack of $5,800) flying in the wind.
So did the real D.B. Cooper ever exist? Well, in Marvel’s timeline, apparently not. We’ll have to see whether Loki was behind any more historical mysteries as new episodes of Loki premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.
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